#parent | #kids | The 10 Best Garmin Watches 2021


Staff, Courtesy of Garmin

Most of us associate Garmin either with running watches or an in-car GPS system, but the brand has expanded in the past decade or so to encompass every sport, activity, and niche imaginable. While expensive, these watches help to keep track of your heart rate, sleep, steps, and any activities or sports that you choose to pursue. Activity tracking ranges from running, swimming, and cycling to even more niche activities like stand-up paddle boarding, golf, or even yoga.

Since a lot of us don’t want to buy two watches if we don’t have to, Garmin has designed some of these watches to function and look not only like a running watch, but as a sleek smartwatch as well. Look below to see some of our favorite Garmin watches available today, and start tracking all of your sports!

How to Choose a Garmin

While it may be simple, there are a few key aspects you will want to consider when purchasing a Garmin watch. The first is what activities you will want to use it for. If you are someone that simply wants to keep track of your fitness level, heart rate, and sleep, a more basic model will be more than enough for you—there is no use spending upwards of $400 for features that you won’t use.

If you are a more serious athlete or want to track a more niche sport, however, you will want to make sure that all of the data that you want on your watch is available. Battery life will also be more important—particularly for endurance athletes—as you want to make sure that your watch will last through your workouts, races, or marathon golf tournaments.

You should also consider aesthetics and build—a sleeker and more lightweight design will transfer well from everyday wear at the office to a post-work workout, while the bulkier, more ruggedized builds are necessary for traipsing around the wilderness, and situations that may cause your watch to take a beating. Note that the longer the battery life, the more features, and the sturdier the build, the more expensive your watch will become.

How We Choose

We pored through the many Garmin watch models, and picked out our favorites. Using our expertise on fitness tech, tested expert reviews from sites like Tom’s Guide and Tech Radar, and customer reviews from sites like Amazon and Walmart, we determined which watches are worth buying. We took into consideration the price, size, features, and weight, and highlighted what makes each watch unique.

1

Best for Everyday Use

Venu 2

Garmin
amazon.com

$399.99

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 11 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: Up to 650 Songs
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 40mm, 45mm 

If you like the smartwatch look and don’t want something too clunky, the Venu could be a good fit. It is sleek enough to wear to the office, and high tech enough to carry you straight into a post-work run.

It has accurate GPS tracking, a heart rate sensor, and can even sync with compatible gym equipment. It can store up to 650 songs and access music apps like Amazon Music. Plus, the AMOLED display is bright and easy to read, which makes it a great smartwatch alternative.

  • AMOLED display and smartwatch features
  • Sleek, modern design

2

Best for the Beginner Runner

Forerunner 45

Garmin
walmart.com

$169.00

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 7 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: N/A
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 39mm, 42mm

Running watches are expensive, but the Forerunner 45 gives you all the features you need for basic training at an affordable price. It will accurately track your workouts and data, and even allows use of Gamin Coach, through which you can preload workouts into your watch. It doesn’t have multisport tracking capabilities and it can’t hold music, but that is expected for the price. 

This is a great watch for younger or beginner runners who might not want to drop $400 on a more premium watch. Plus it is a bit smaller and less bulky, so it fits young wrists well, without being obtrusive. 

  • Basic running data—heart rate, pace, and distance
  • Affordable price

3

Best for the Swimmer

Garmin Swim 2

Garmin
amazon.com

$244.99

Key Specifications
Battery Life: Up to 7 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: N/A
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 42 mm 

While many Garmins are able to track your swim to some extent, this watch goes above and beyond. It can track accurately in both pool and open water swims, and provides you with data like distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type, and SWOLF, which gauges how efficiently you are swimming. 

It even has some advanced features that will help you to stay on pace and log drills. Most impressively, it can last up to 72 hours in swim mode, and up to seven days in smartwatch mode.

  • Tracks in pools and open water
  • Gives data on swim efficiency
  • Lasts up to 72 hours in swim mode

4

Best for the Daily Walker

Garmin vivosmart 4

Garmin
amazon.com

$129.99

$105.27 (19% off)

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 7 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Connected GPS
Music Storage
: N/A
Water Rating
: Swim
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: Small/Medium, Large

Garmin may be known for their bulkier watches, but this sleek fitness tracker is a great choice for someone that wants to track their overall health rather than in depth training data. 

It has REM and blood-oxygen saturation-level sleep tracking, as well as stress tracking during the day. It also has activity timers for everything from walking, to swimming, to yoga. 

You can get notifications for texts and calls, and even respond to texts if you are an Android user. While the tracker itself does not have GPS capabilities, you can connect to your phone’s GPS and track your runs or walks through there. 

  • Tracks sleep, activities, and heart rate
  • Thin, sleek design

5

Best for the Cross-Trainer

Vivoactive 4S

Garmin
amazon.com

$269.00

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 7 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: Up to 500 Songs
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 40mm, 45mm

A bit confusingly named, the Vivoactive 4S is identical to the Vivoactive 4 with the exception of being in a smaller package. The 40mm screen is a good fit for smaller wrists or people who prefer less bulk.

Due to the sleek looks, music storage, and smartwatch capabilities, it is a great option for someone that wants a watch that they can wear at all times. It’s also a great choice for frequent cross-trainers, as it has great on-screen animations for sports like yoga and pilates, and a reliable underwater heart rate tracker.

  • On-screen sport animations

6

Best for the Ultra-Athlete

Instinct Solar

Garmin
walmart.com

$399.99

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 24 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage: N/A
Water Rating
: 10 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 45mm 

If you have ever wished that you could charge up your watch in the middle of the woods, this watch could be right for you. The Instinct was designed with the outdoorsperson in mind, and it can run in GPS mode for days, charging by solar power though the Power Glass screen. 

The design is particularly bulky, but that means it can take a serious beating—plus it is waterproof. This is a great choice for thru-hikers, ultra-runners, and any other endurance athletes. 

  • Ruggedized exterior
  • Charges through solar screen

7

Best for the the Triathlete

Forerunner 945 Bundle

Garmin
amazon.com

$699.95

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 14 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: Up to 1000 Songs
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 47mm

For serious triathletes, data is important in all three sports—running, cycling, and swimming. While you can get some good data from a watch while running, it isn’t always the most accurate in the pool. 

To ensure that you are getting the most from your workouts, this bundle comes with the 945 watch as well as heart rate monitors for on land and in water. The watch itself has full color maps, over 30 activities, and a battery life of up to two weeks. 

  • Accurate heart rate tracking for running, swimming, and biking
  • Full color maps

8

Best for the Golfer

fenix 6

Garmin
amazon.com

$599.99

$494.99 (18% off)

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 14 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: Up to 2000 Songs
Water Rating
: 10 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 42mm, 47mm, 51mm

The fenix line is the top tier of Gamin watches, but this one is more on the affordable end. While it is perfectly capable of handling a jog around the neighborhood, this watch is truly designed for long endurance sports, and golf. 

In expedition GPS mode, this watch can last even longer, up to almost 20 days. It has a protective, ruggedized design—and is even waterproof up to 100 meters. Plus it comes loaded with 41,000 golf courses across the U.S.

9

Best for the Kid

Garmin vivofit jr. 3

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 1 Year
GPS-Enabled
: No
Music Storage
: N/A
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android

This mini Garmin is a great way to get your kids more active. It will track their activities and connect to the Garmin Jr. app where they can see their activities, and gain rewards like games and icons. Parents can even assign chores through the app and kids will be given timers to complete each task, and given subsequent rewards upon completion. 

You can even see your kid’s steps and sleep, and if they reached their goal of 60 minutes of activity each day. Best of all, it does not need to be charged, and it comes with a battery that lasts up to a year. When it does die, it can easily be replaced by an adult. 

  • Affordable
  • Tracks steps, activities, sleep, and chores
  • Battery needs to be replaced after one year

10

Best for Music

Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin
amazon.com

$349.99

Key Specifications
Battery Life
: Up to 7 Days
GPS-Enabled
: Yes
Music Storage
: Up to 500 Songs
Water Rating
: 5 ATM
Smartphone Compatibility
: iPhone, Android
Screen Size
: 42mm 

The Forerunner 245 allows you to be free from your phone but still listen to your favorite playlist. It can store up to 500 songs, or stream music from apps like Spotify. It gives you all of the running data that you need like heart rate, distance, and even training status, and it comes in a relatively sleek and lightweight package. 

If you do use the music feature, it will drain the battery a bit faster, but you can still get six hours in GPS with music, or up to seven days in smartwatch mode. 

  • Streams Spotify
  • 6-hour battery life with GPS and music

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